‘Off Turf’ American Oaks Retains Grade 1 Status; AGS Committee Alters Grading Schedule for 2022

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s American Graded Stakes Committee said the Dec. 26 American Oaks – taken off turf and run on dirt because of wet conditions at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. – would have its Grade 1 standing reinstated. Under the AGS Committee’s rules, races run on a different surface than that originally scheduled are automatically downgraded and reviewed for possible reinstatement.

The American Oaks, won by Queen Goddess, drew 11 entries. Only one original entry was scratched from the race, and it was not surface-related.

The committee also reinstated the Grade 2 standing for the Santa Anita Mathis Mile Stakes, run the same day as the American Oaks. Law Professor won the race in a field of eight. One horse, Zoffarelli, scratched because of the surface change.

A third stakes run Dec. 26, the San Gabriel, will remain a Grade 3 race for 2021 after automatically being downgraded from Grade 2 when it was taken off the turf. Three of the original seven entries were scratched after the surface change, including morning line favorite Hit the Road.

The AGS Committee will meet Jan. 26-27 to assign grades for 2022. The timing is a departure from previous years when the committee would meet in early December, assessing races run after the previous year’s Breeders’ Cup through the current year’s Breeders’ Cup.

The new schedule permits the committee to assess races for the entire calendar year.

Andy Schweigardt, TOBA’s senior director of industry relations and development and the secretary of the AGS Committee, said, “The committee made the change to a calendar year for its statistical measurements so that the important Grade 1 and Grade 2 races conducted after the Breeders’ Cup and before Dec. 31 could be included in the grading session workbooks in a timelier manner. Under the former Breeders’ Cup to Breeders’ Cup statistical year, a race run Thanksgiving weekend and the stats earned by the horses in it would not be reflected in the workbooks until a year later.”

Schweigardt said the 2022 grades are expected to be announced Jan. 28 and will cover the period from Feb. 1, 2022, through Jan. 31, 2023.

For more information on how the grading process works, click here.

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